Wishing My Flat Wasn’t Furnished

1 Nov

I was going to write a post complaining about something.  Well, multiple things.  I seem to be giving everyone the impression that things are going really smoothly here in Bombay.  While that is occasionally true, adjusting to a new place is never easy.  Today, I almost told a group of teenage boys to fuck off, as they were whistling and yelling, “Hey baby!  Come here babe!” at me from their motorcycle as I tried to cross six lanes of traffic.  I restrained myself; it only would have made matters worse, and my anger was misguided anyway.  I had just gone to the cell phone office after they had shut off my service for the third time in 10 days, and I was completely frustrated.

So, yes, this city drives me crazy sometimes, but then I meet the friendliest and most helpful people (and absolutely beautiful, as you’ll read below) and am reminded of what makes this place so great.

This past week, for instance, I had to register with the FRRO (Foreigners Regional Registration Office).  I took the train to the closest station and decided to walk , since I had arrived hours before the office opened.  Bombay was relatively quiet.  The banks, shops, and offices had yet to open.  Only a few newspaper and fruit vendors were in operation.  After 30 minutes or so of meandering and yet to find St. Xavier College, the landmark closest to FRRO, I began asking people to point me in the right direction.  I asked four or five men and no one could tell me where to go. I walked another couple of blocks and saw a well-dressed business man paying a vendor for a newspaper.

“Excuse me,” I yelled from half a block away, as he started to get into his car.  I began to jog across the intersection.  “Do you know where St. Xavier College is?”

He pointed straight down the road in the opposite direction I had been walking for the last half hour.  “I am going that way,” he said, “I’ll give you a ride.”

I still had plenty of time to kill and the walk would have been nice.  I heard my parents’ voices in my head, warning me never to get in a stranger’s car.

Screw it.  “Are you sure you don’t mind?”  I asked.

I checked the door to make sure I could locate the lock in case things got shady and I needed to make an escape.  “So, do you work around here?”  I attempted to make small talk with the man.  “I own a textile factory not far from here,” he said, then turned up the volume on the R&B music he was playing–not what I was expecting from a clean cut, seemingly reserved businessman.  I took the hint.

Within five minutes, we were in front of the main gate of the college.  I thanked him profusely and got out of the car.

*** 

I can’t imagine that the next Sex and the City movie will be set in India, but the other day, I felt like I was in the Bombay version.  I had just taken the bus from my apartment to Bandra (Bandra, by the way, is a very popular neighborhood among expats in Bombay) and was trying to find a cab to take me to my meeting in another part of town.  A few passed by but were either occupied or the driver didn’t understand where I wanted to go.
 

I noticed one pulling up in front of a small furniture shop and began to walk faster to catch up with it.  I noticed a group of men doing the same.  As the cab driver parallel parked in front of the shop, a man from the store turned around and asked me where I was trying to go.

For a moment I forgot.  He was absolutely beautiful, like an Indian Aidan.   A carpenter in a kurta!  He was tall and clean shaven with a bright white smile and had the darkest, most beautiful eyes that appeared to be lined with eyeliner.  But as he got closer, I realized his lashes were just unbelievably long and dark.  In the movie version, music would play and he would turn around very slowly, and everything around him would be blurred out so that the audience would fall in love with him too.

“Where do you want to go?” he asked again, with barely a hint of an accent, as he walked closer.  “Worli Sea Face,” I said.  He began speaking to the group of men who also wanted the cab.  One of them also needed to go to Worli but not the same area.  In the meantime, another cab passes by, and Indian Aidan flags it down.  He walks to the window and tells the driver where to take me, then opens the door and closes it after I’m in.  He taps the top of the cab and the driver speeds away.

Ten minutes later, after calling the person I was supposed to meet only to find out that she has gone home sick for the day, I am back in front of the furniture store.  “Back so soon,” Indian Aidan says, looking up from a piece of furniture he’s polishing.  “Yes, meeting was canceled.”  I thanked him again for helping me earlier.  He offers to get me another cab but I tell him I’m going back to the bus station.

I walk away, not even upset about the canceled meeting and smiling because every time I take the bus, I will have to pass in front of that furniture store.

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8 Responses to “Wishing My Flat Wasn’t Furnished”

  1. Mom November 1, 2010 at 3:10 am #

    OMG! Are you crazy? I can’t believe you took a chance and “hitch-hiked” a ride with a STRANGER in a FOREIGN COUNTRY! That’s beyond stupid. I’m seriously disappointed. No, I’m beyond disappointed! I can’t even pass this off as a “blonde” moment on your part!

    When you lassoed your shirt around over your head while watching coyote Ugly tryouts so you could dance along in the living room and ended up getting it caught in the ceiling fan and pulling down the light fixture, did I get mad? NO. Because THAT’S a blonde moment.

    And you said he was “clean cut and seemingly reserved”? I don’t have anything to add to that statement except two words:

    Ted Bundy.

    I rest my case.

    I’M FURIOUS!

    (I did slightly edit my mother’s comment, and by edit, I mean delete half of it. She began to ramble, but you get the point.)

    • Cindy Templet November 1, 2010 at 7:35 am #

      Thank you for loving your daughter enough to remind her about Ted Bundy! I as a mother couldn’t believe she got in the car as much as we preach safety to our children.

    • Steph November 1, 2010 at 11:08 am #

      Can we focus on the hot guy in the second story?

      • Jess November 1, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

        OH my GOODNESS, he sounds dreamy!!!! Go back…. you need something, right?!?! Make something up…. a knick knack….. pledge…. anything….. 🙂 As for getting into the car with a stranger… ummm yeah, probably a bad idea…. but hell, I would have done it too. (btw loving your mom’s comment, made me want to meet her)

        Love and miss you tons! HUGS

  2. Mom November 1, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    Sorry, Sweetie-There was a hot guy? I didn’t even comprehend the second half of the story because I couldn’t get past the first half.

    I am going to have to stop reading your blogs. They’re too stressful……

    Ramble? Me?

    Love you….. Despite.

    • Steph November 1, 2010 at 7:24 pm #

      Ok, I’m saying one thing and dropping it. I have to take cabs everywhere, even late at night. What’s the difference?

      • Yankee Doodle dANNdy November 3, 2010 at 1:22 am #

        I’m pro Indian Aidan.

        Big time.

        please tell me he’s not gay or married…and when you do, please give him your number.

        carpe diem!

  3. Bill D. November 4, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Sorry; Got to agree with Tee on this one! We should never get in a car with strangers; we should never give our telephone numbers out on first contact and we should definetly never, ever, give these gents your home/living arrangement location. These guys are taking “being pushy” to a new extreme. Be careful Steph, your Mom just loves and worries about you.

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